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Dispatches From Two Out Travelers on Our 20th Anniversary

Dispatches From Two Out Travelers on Our 20th Anniversary

Dispatches From Two Out Travelers on our 20th Anniversary

Out Traveler turns 20 this year. Two of the publication’s original editors discuss its impetus and what makes LGBTQ+ travel a singular experience.

As told to Neal Broverman

Dispatches From Two Out Travelers on our 20th Anniversary

Judy Wiederis the former editorial director of Out and Plus, the first woman editor in chief of The Advocate, the founding editor of Out Traveler, and author of the memoir Random Events Tend to Cluster:

The genesis of Out Traveler really began when Out’s editorial staff began getting mail about where to find “safe places” for gays (queers now) to travel without fear of harassment. “Can I hold hands with my boyfriend in public in Mykonos?” — is a good example. So many things in the early 2000s that we know now, we didn’t know then.

Simultaneously, Out’s publisher and ad staff were testing the waters in several known queer locations — Palm Springs, P-Town, the Castro District, West Hollywood, the West Village in NYC, etc. — and getting great feedback.

Dispatches From Two Out Travelers on our 20th Anniversary

Then one day, the president of our media company walked into my office – I was the editorial director – and casually asked, “How fast can you create a prototype for a gay travel magazine?”

I laughed. He didn’t.

“When do you want it?” I asked hopefully. He leaned in and said, “A week.” When I turned around and screamed, “A week!?” he smiled and said, “OK, OK, two weeks.”

Very clever strategy. It probably took more like a month, but I locked myself in my office for what seemed like years without fresh air, and somehow it happened. When the bell rang, the publisher had just what he needed to make the rounds to all Out and The Advocate’s appropriate advertisers – and they were in!

For me, I felt was on the right path when I found a fantastic quote from Mark Twain for the magazine’s mission statement. Twain, a ravenous traveler, famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness.”

It’s verifiable. You meet so many people, cultures, and ideas you thought you understood, but you soon realize you know nothing. No one lectures you. You discover what is real for yourself.

Dispatches From Two Out Travelers on our 20th Anniversary

Darren Freiis a former editor at Out Traveler and currently a branded content editor at Skift, a news source for travel executives:

We tried to cover tried-and-true gay destinations like Provincetown and Palm Springs in new ways: through the eyes of this celebrity, in the footsteps of that writer, etc. The lens widened when we talked about destinations that weren’t necessarily known as being gay-friendly. Whether naive or not, we were guided by this idea that traveling openly as LGBTQ+ individuals, couples, and friends could help change the world. Visibility mattered, even in destinations with antigay laws, but we also had a responsibility to promote safety and common sense.


We had a blast covering the world, overseeing expensive shoots with A-list photographers, being courted by destinations eager to attract the “gay dollar,” and reveling in what many of my friends called a dream job. (Queer travel magazine? Sign me up!) But what I remember most is this mission to celebrate global queerness, promote connection with other people and cultures, and help readers discover the life-changing and life-affirming aspects of travel. That’s what got me out of bed in the morning. Out Traveler launched my career in travel, and I will forever be grateful.

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Neal Broverman